Making a 9th century Iraqi lustreware bowl replica

I’m Andrew Hazelden and I’ve been a
potter for over 30 years. I think the one of the fascinations with lustre in history was that they were creating gold out of what wasn’t gold and they were thought to be alchemists. You feel you can get lost in in looking at the iridescence of a lustre pot which makes you think that you’re in another world. The lustre is the technique where you use metal sulphides to create an iridescent surface on the pot. It’s a very subtle and complex technique. This bowl is a copy of an Iraq 9th century bowl. I actually used it in making this bowl a clay from Italy from Deruta which is a buff colour. So I take the the ball of clay is just over a kilogram in weight and it’s
thrown on the potter’s wheel and may take five minutes to throw the shape. It’s left for a couple of days to get leather hard. Once it’s leather hard it’s turned over and that the foot is turned. Once the foot is turned the bowl has to
be dried completely in the Sun and after that it has its first firing which is the biscuit firing then it’s taken and dipped into a white glaze which is primarily tin oxide to make it white then it’s fired again. The next process is to paint it with the lustre pigment. The pigment that I’m using to paint
for this bowl is mainly made of copper sulphide but it also has some silver in it and it will also be made with a red oxide and clay. It’s then calcined so it’s fired to about glowing temperature – 650 centigrade. After it’s been calcined it’s taken and ground and and then it’s mixed with vinegar that’s when it’s then painted. The dot design was copied from this
9th century Iraq bowl. In fact how to work out what brushes they used andtried to use a similar brush. A lustre firing does need a kiln that has the capability of reducing the oxygen you’re trying to create an an atmosphere
where there’s no oxygen which reduces the pigments to bring out the silver and the copper. You create smoke The way I do that is to post small pieces of wood into the kiln through the spy hole and that pushes out the oxygen. Then you allow the oxygen back in for a short period to clear the chamber and that oxidation and reduction spasm is important to create the iridescence on the pot. When the pot comes out of a lustre kiln
it still looks like it’s just clay covered in clay you then have to rub the ochre off with a with an abrasive. You get to know then whether the blast firing has worked or not because if it has worked you’ll start to see an iridescent red or a silver. So that’s the most magic part is the
rubbing off of the pots after the firing you’re never sure what’s going to happen
and the results are not predictable but it’s the the iridescence seems to have a life of its own. You have to sometimes slant the pot to the towards the light to see the iridescence so depending on the angle that you hold the pot depends on whether you see the iridescence or not. So it seems quite a mysterious thing happening

6 Replies to “Making a 9th century Iraqi lustreware bowl replica”

  1. The title is lack-lustre . As first commenter with all appended privileges of that office, I petition a formal re-naming to "bowling with Andy- UNINTENTIAL ASMR – 440 GHZ HEALING FREQUENCIES FOR HEALTH WHILE STUDYING" and have him slide his finger around the bowl rim like an idiot.

  2. I know so much about pottery l thought it could only be fired once.

    Thank you for correcting my ignorance.

  3. An interesting look at pottery history. Thank you.👍 Makes one wonder who was the first who came up with that sequence, or how many centuries it took? 🙂

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